Refugees who fled Myanmar endure dire conditions at impromptu camps as they wait for aid amid torrential rain.
Arba Khatun, 50, comes from Rakhine State, Myanmar, which she fled a few weeks ago.
“My name is Arba Khatun and I am 50 years old. Before the crisis, we lived a fairly good life: We had domestic animals, we had a farm, we cultivated lots of different crops like rice and coconuts. Somehow, we managed. My husband died 15 years ago, so I lived with my son and his family. When I was younger, I used to love working on the farm, but now I am old, so my son does most of the work.
I can not remember what day it was, but I had just woken up and was washing my face when the military came to our farm and stole our animals. That is when they fired their gun and a bullet hit my stomach. Luckily, it did not go too deep, but it was very painful and bleeding a lot so my son took me to a nearby doctor.
When we returned the whole village had burned to the ground. My son carried me to the mountain, we found his family.
We slept there for three days, then he carried me to Bangladesh. We could not bring anything with us because my son was carrying me and his wife was carrying their two children – it was a difficult journey and it took us 12 days. We heard there were some problems at the border, but we crossed easily.
I am happy to be in Bangladesh because we are safe here. My wound is healing so I am walking around a lot more, too. But we could not bring any food with us and we have nothing to eat – we have not received any support, we are so hungry.
My son would ask the world to help us get our country back, but I don’t want to go there again, we will never be safe in Myanmar, we need to do the best we can here in Bangladesh.”
*As told to Katie Arnold in Kutupalong new shelter camp near Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh.
*This interview has been edited for clarity.
The UN and other human rights organisations have warned that the mass exodus following killings, rapes, and burned villages are signs of “ethnic cleansing”, pleading for the international community to pressure Aung San Suu Kyi and her government to end the violence.
“The situation seems a textbook example of ethnic cleansing,” UN human rights chief Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein said on Monday, September 11.